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Why is diabetes often misdiagnosed in children?

On Behalf of | Oct 18, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

Children of any age have the potential to develop type I diabetes. This form of diabetes affects around 18,000 new children each year.

The symptoms of type I diabetes are fairly obvious, but yet this illness often goes undetected until it leads to extreme weight loss, lethargy or diabetic ketoacidosis, all of which may be life-threatening emergencies. What leads to a misdiagnosis? Here are a few commonly confused conditions and why it may take longer to diagnose type I in some children.

Conditions similar to type I diabetes

There are a number of conditions that type I diabetes may mimic such as:

  • The stomach flu, which may result in weight loss, dehydration and stomach pain
  • Urinary tract infections, which may cause vomiting, nausea and stomach pain
  • Mononucleosis, which is a virus that causes extreme fatigue, swollen glands and a sore throat in most people

Children who are developing type I diabetes may have some of these symptoms prior to extreme thirst and frequent urination. They may also have these illnesses at the same time as type I diabetes, which could lead to a misdiagnosis.

How do medical providers diagnose diabetes?

To diagnose diabetes, it’s important to have three tests performed. The first is the glycated hemoglobin test, or HbA1c test, which will show your average blood sugar level for the last two to three months. The second is a fasting glucose test, which is taken after sleeping and before eating. This will determine the level of glucose in the blood after a longer period of fasting.

Finally, the third test is a random blood sugar test. This can be taken at any time during the day to determine if high blood sugar levels are present in the patient.

It is not unreasonable to ask for these tests if you feel that your child is acting unusually or has symptoms that match type I diabetes. If a medical provider fails to order these tests despite knowing that your child has overlapping symptoms and your child is injured or dies from diabetic complications, then it’s important to make sure that they are aware of the error and that you take action to pursue a medical malpractice claim.